Confetti at the Cornish Cafe by @PhillipaAshley #review @AvonBooksUK

Confetti at the Cornish Café (The Cornish Café Series, Book 3) by [Ashley, Phillipa]

 

I had a lovely surprise last week when a paperback copy of Summer at the Cornish Cafe and a proof of Confetti at the Cornish Cafe arrived in the post. Confetti at the Cornish Cafe is the third in a series featuring Demi (short for Demelza) and Cal and their holiday park of Kilhallon in Cornwall. The main story is stand alone with previous storylines mentioned in passing but I feel it would be enhance your enjoyment if you read the previous novels to get a better understanding of Cal and Demi’s backgrounds and the relationship between them. You can read my reviews of the other two books by clicking here:  Summer at the Cornish Cafe and Christmas at the Cornish Cafe

In this book, Cal and Demi are about to launch Kilhallon as a quirky wedding venue and to their surprise their first potential customers are none other than a famous filmstar couple. Trying to get Kilhallon ready and keep the news of the wedding secret proves to be quite difficult not helped by Mawgan Cade who is as always trying to cause trouble.

One thing I particularly enjoyed in this book was reading about how the relationship between Demi and her father was deepening, helped by her father’s new partner Rachel and Demi bonding over baby Freya, Demi’s half sister. It was good to see Demi beginning to gain more trust in her family again.  It seemed that Cal and his half-brother were also making progress towards a better relationship. Cal and Demi’s relationship became stronger too over the course of the novel though not without some misunderstandings on both sides! The story is told from the most part by Demi but there are also a few chapters from Cal’s point of view giving the reader a better insight into his thoughts and feelings. I have to admit that telling the story in the present tense didn’t quite work for me in this novel. I can’t quite put my finger on why but it didn’t feel quite right somehow. Having said that though, as I hope you can tell from my review, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story.

The book isn’t just a romance novel though as it touches on topical issues such as the ongoing war in Syria and how people who are out there either working or volunteering are affected by what they have witnessed and experienced. The difficult situation for families in refugee camps being separated and trying to find relatives and a place of safety is also featured.

Confetti at The Cornish Cafe is a really enjoyable, romantic read with a perfect feel good ending. I’m sure I read somewhere that the Cornish Cafe series is supposed to be a trilogy but I’m hoping there might be another book as I’d love to know what happens next for Demi and Cal and Kilhallon.

Thanks to the publishers for sending me a copy of the book. Confetti at the Cornish Cafe is published today by Maze as an e-book and you can order a copy online here

From the back of the book

Cal and Demi are preparing to launch their beloved Kilhallon Resort as a wedding venue. Cakes are baking, Cornish flowers are blooming, and fairy lights are twinkling. With the cliff-top setting and coastal views, it’s the perfect place for a magical marriage ceremony.

But their first clients are no ordinary couple. The bride and groom are internationally famous actors Lily Craig and Ben Trevone. Kilhallon is about to host a celebrity wedding.

With the pressure on, Demi and Cal are doing all they can to keep their guests happy and avoid any wedding disasters. But is the unpredictable weather the only thing standing in the way of the Big Day?

As secrets surface and truths are told, can Demi and Cal ensure that Kilhallon’s first wedding is a success? One thing’s for sure, this will be a Cornish celebration to remember . . .

Kate Hunter #AuthorInTheSpotlight #TheCaseroom @fledglingpress

The Caseroom by [Hunter, Kate]

I’m pleased to welcome Edinburgh born author Kate Hunter today. Her novel, The Caseroom, will be published by Fledgling Press next Wednesday, 31st May. The Caseroom looks at the lives of women in the printing industry, a heavily male-dominated world at the time. If you are in Edinburgh next Wednesday, there will be a book launch at Blackwell’s on South Bridge at 6.30pm. It’s free but you can register a place here. If you can’t manage that but like the sound of the book you can order it from Blackwells or order a copy online here.

Thanks for joining me Kate. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?

I grew up in Colinton Mains and worked in Oliver & Boyd printers in St Mary Street when I was fifteen. When, in my teens, I got on a bus to Manchester, I knew I wanted to be a writer but didn’t have a clue how to go about it, so instead I packed cornflakes in Kelloggs, became an active trade unionist, got pregnant. (I didn’t know how to do that either but it was a lot easier to find out.) It’s taken me years to get the wherewithal to commit myself to writing. The Caseroom’s my first novel, though I have had poetry published.

What inspired you to start writing?

Since my dad took us to the library when I was wee, reading and stringing written words together have fulfilled a deep need in me. Even within the limits of my capabilities, there’s no end to what can be made with words. Seeing ‘compositor’ listed as my father’s mother’s occupation on the 1901 census sowed the seed of The Caseroom. The women of our family were envelope folders or domestic servants; Victorian hand-typesetting was a highly-skilled trade; and it was a male preserve. So, how come? I’d stumbled on a fascinating bit of hidden history and wanted to get into that world and take others there. 

Tell me about your journey to publication

After seven years of researching and writing, being hard up helped. An Arts Council award for people on benefits for a manuscript assessment with The Literary Consultancy  – they charge a fair whack to mentor authors – led to Lesley McDowell liking my work, saying I could use her name and suggesting a publisher. When they rejected it I prepared myself for the long haul, but a few months later Clare of Fledgling Press read and truly appreciated my novel. She’s been great to work with.

In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?

Hard working lives and the making of books.

How did you come up with the title for your book?

It came to me at the outset as the only possible title.

How do you plan to celebrate publication day?

Making a grand sandcastle on Portobello beach with my son and grandchildren. The sun will shine all day.

[I will watch out for that sunny day next week then Kate!]

Do you have a work in progress just now?

The sequel to The Caseroom. My final draft was too long and Fledgling Press and I agreed I’d make it into two books. Oh, and trying to finish a long poem, started years ago, on Ludwig Wittgenstein and me. Don’t ask!

What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!

James Kelman, Dirt Road; Chinguz Aimatov, Jamilia; Terry Eagleton, Materialism.

Dirt Road by [Kelman, James]

What are you reading just now? 

May 2107, rereading The Habit of Being: the Letters of Flannery O’Connor. I love writers’ letters, especially those of such a singular characters as O’Connor.

If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?

Today I’d say Beckett’s Malone trilogy (in one volume). Tomorrow? Dostoevsky The Brothers Karamazov. Next day? Poet W.S. Graham’s Aimed at Nobody. There’s so many of them!

Is there a book you’d like to see made into a film? Who would be in your dream cast?

The Caseroom; Ken Loach to direct; unknown actors.

Director Ken Loach

And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?

At my age, I’ll settle for being me!

 

Changing Lanes – a guest post from Angela Jackson @AngelaJ

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Today I welcome Angela Jackson back to the blog. Angela’s debut novel The Emergence of Judy Taylor was awarded the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award in 2013 and was chosen as Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year. In this guest post she explains how she is changing direction as she works on her second novel and a Edinburgh Fringe Festival show.
CHANGING LANES

I’ll never get used to describing myself as a writer, but, just lately, I’ve been stretching that word to encompass something even scarier than the blank page. I’m writing a one-woman show, comprising three monologues; I’ll be performing all three parts.

When I tell people this, the most common response is they ask if I’ve done it before. And my answer is: Nope. Never. Nothing even close. 
It’s made me think how easy it is to stay in our respective lanes. 
I’ve finally written the second novel (The Darlings) and am working on edits with the incredible Sophy Dale https://sparkforwriters.com, but I felt very strongly that I also wanted to do something else. I make no secret of my desire to write for television, and I’m working really hard on that, including scripting these three monologues. The huge, terrifying leap will be performing. So much could go wrong (I have a terrible memory, and I’m learning fifty minutes of material), but I’d have felt stifled had I just stuck to novel writing, even though I know how fortunate I am to be able to do that for a living.
I’m slap bang in the thick of the monologues now, organising props, lighting, filming, learning my lines. It’s all-consuming, and I have occasional moments of panic, but I’m so glad I didn’t stay in my lane. 
I’m writing this to encourage fellow writers to think beyond others’  expectations, to think beyond ‘should’ and stray into ‘could’. You don’t have to follow it through, of course, but there are so many avenues open to us as writers, we don’t need to confine ourselves to what others may perceive to be our lane. 
You can ask me about all this again after my run is finished and the reviews are in. I may have egg on my face, I may have a string of one star reviews or even a few four and five stars. Whatever. Right now, this feels fabulous.
Thanks for telling us about your new venture Angela and good luck with the show which I hope to come along to in August. The Darling Monologues  will be on at 8pm from 3rd to 11th August 2017 at Waterstones, Princes Street, Edinburgh. Keep an eye on the website www.thedarlings.co.uk for up to date information. 
Tickets are already available to buy from the Edinburgh Fringe website:
 

#JustForTheHolidays by @SueMoorcroft #review and #guestpost @AvonBooksUK

I have to echo the sentiments of the cover quote: “I love all of Sue Moorcroft’s books!“. Last year she gave us the perfect Christmas read with The Christmas Promise and here we have a perfect romantic summer read with Just For The Holidays.

A month’s holiday in a beautiful gite in Alsace sounds like a perfect way to spend a holiday doesn’t it? Well, not if you are Leah who has been asked along basically to keep the peace between her sister Michele and her estranged husband Alister. Only a few days have gone by when an unexpected pregnancy is announced and through an unfortunate combination of circumstances Leah finds herself in sole charge of her teenage niece and nephew. Much though she loves them, she has made a conscious decision not to have children herself and feels very out of her depth when it comes to parenting skills. In case she doesn’t have enough going on, living next door is very handsome helicopter pilot Ronan and his teenage son Curtis. There are lots of hormones swirling about and not just the teenagers!

Sue Moorcroft writes books that quickly have me engrossed in her characters’ lives and Just for the Holidays was no exception. Her stories always involve situations which feel very real. Her characters have to face problems, dilemmas and worries. This makes the book sounds very heavy and serious but it’s not. There are a lot of light moments and laughter which very much reflect real life. Leah was someone I really took to. I loved the way she seemed able to relate to everyone and really connect with them. I was very jealous of her job tasting and developing new chocolates. Despite her doubts about her parenting skills she copes remarkably well with all the challenges thrown at her. She deals with problems in a very practical way, often heading to the kitchen to cook for and with the teens, showing her caring side through nourishing and nurturing even though she probably doesn’t think of it that way.

The rather gorgeous Ronan was a great addition to the story. A helicopter pilot recovering from a shoulder injury, he seemed a very caring and considerate man. I thought his relationship with his teenage son Curtis was well depicted as he coped with the usual teenage moodiness and the boy who was quickly developing into a man with all the usual feelings and confusions of adolescents. In fact, as I was reading I felt  that Sue Moorcroft portrayed all her teenage characters really convincingly. I had to laugh but also feel frustrated on behalf of Leah and Ronan as the teenagers seemed to thwart any opportunities they had to be alone together! I also have to admire the author’s dedication to her research which involved being taken up in a helicopter to simulate how a forced landing would be dealt with by a pilot – rather you than me Sue! 

Just for the Holidays is a really entertaining read and another winner from Sue Moorcroft. It’s a perfect mix of romance and humour, dilemmas and feel-good moments with such a perfect summery setting. Definitely one to read with a chilled glass of something fizzy as you relax in the sun (well we can hope can’t we?) and dream of summer holidays.

My thanks to Helena at Avon Books for my copy – and my sunflower seeds, I’ll let you know how they get on! Just For The Holidays was published in paperback and as an e-book on 18th May. It is available in all good bookshops and at the time of writing is only £1.99 for Kindle, so treat yourself to this fabulous summery read – click here to order.

Now read on for Sue suggestions of ten things you might consider doing – ‘just for the holidays’.

 

  1. Put your mobile phone in flight mode for the whole time you’re away. Yes, really! It will function as a camera but you won’t be notified of an important email from work or pick up the wifi in a café only to find it automatically reports to Facebook exactly where you are – and, therefore, that your house is empty. You will relax more deeply if you’re cut off from the outside world. It might feel strange but you could grow to like it. (NB You could switch it over just to call the kids or your aged parent each evening.)
  2. Go on holiday alone to a place where nobody knows you. Then behave in a way you would usually never do. (NB I didn’t say MISbehavebut you could. If so, you might want to switch off your mobile phone altogether.)
  3. Go on a writing holiday or a painting holiday, even if you’ve never written or painted before. Or a yoga retreat. Just pick something you’ve never tried but always had a hankering for. There are some amazing venues offering tuition, food and drink included in the price. (Yes, I do run a writing course like this, as you mention it …)
  4. If you and your loved one(s) usually find yourself bickering on holiday, outlaw arguing for the duration. Make crazy rules like people have to listen to each other’s point of view and be fair to all.
  5. Let each person in the holiday party have a holiday wish – the chance to choose something they want to do and (so long as it’s feasible) which everyone else has to accommodate without complaint. This can be fun even with very small children. Their vision might not be wide but you can combine wishes: ‘eating jam sandwiches’ with ‘go on a trampoline’ i.e. you take a picnic to a fun park. (You don’t have to eat the jam sandwiches while you’re actually bouncing around.)
  6. In similar vein, if you eat out during your holiday let each person in turn choose the restaurant or, if you’re self-catering, let each person in turn choose what dinner’s going to be. Go on. You might like fish fingers with ice cream …
  7. Try a ‘staycation’ at home. Have picnics on the back lawn or even on the sitting room floor, jump completely out of your normal routine and don’t go to the gym, cubs, camera club or whatever constitutes your and your family’s ‘usuals’. Instead, go out for days to local places of interest you’ve never bothered with, go out for meals, have a duvet day or lie in the bath and read. Just don’t do the housework or the laundry. If the weather allows, have barbecues instead of cooking in the kitchen.
  8. Dye your hair blue. You can dye it back when you come home.
  9. Only speak the language of the country you’re visiting. (I admit I could only do this if I holidayed in an English-speaking country … but you may be much more talented.)
  10. Have a really, really, really good time. All holiday long. You deserve it.

From the back of the book

The #1 bestselling author returns for summer! Grab your sun hat, a cool glass of wine, and the only book you need on holiday…

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

A glorious summer read, for you to devour in one sitting – perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

I Know My Name by CJ Cooke #giveaway @fictionpubteam

I have a fantastic giveaway for you to enter today courtesy of Harper Collins Publishers. They have very generously offered me three proof copies of psychological suspense novel I Know My Name by CJ Cooke to giveaway. Although it is available in e-book format just now, it won’t be published in paperback until 15th June so this is your chance to get your hands on a physical copy early. To enter, click the Rafflecopter link below and follow the instructions. It’s UK only (sorry to my overseas followers, it’s because of the postage costs!) and you can enter up to midnight on Friday 26th May. I’ll contact the winner within 24 hours and your prize will be sent directly from the publisher.

Click here to enter the giveaway

Here’s what the book is about:

Komméno Island, Greece: I don’t know where I am, who I am. Help me.

A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there.

Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloïse Shelley is officially missing.

Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie…

Does a husband ever truly know his wife? Or a wife know her husband? Why is Eloïse missing? Why did she forget?

The truth is found in these pages…

The Panda Pantser #guestpost by @SarahPBroadley

Sarah

I’m really pleased to welcome Sarah Broadley to the blog today. Sarah lives in Edinburgh where she co-chairs the South East Scotland network of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), she also reviews middle grade (8-12) books for http://www.mybookcorner.com.au/ and was a Story Shopper at Edinburgh International Book Festival last year. Sarah splits her time between writing picture books and middle grade stories and working part-time at the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity. I think she deserves a prize for the most unusual guest post title I’ve featured so far! Read on for an explanation.

The Panda Pantser by Sarah Broadley

Are you a meticulous planner of chapters, characters and plot? A master of post-its and spreadsheets that map out every miniscule detail? Or are you like me, a ‘let’s just see where it takes me’ kind of writer?

I am a very organised person. I don’t like mess or clutter, especially in the immediate area of where I happen to be jotting down words in the hope they resemble something passable as literature. I’m also known as the ‘spreadsheet queen’ by my family, as everything I do is planned within an inch of its life.

So why do I not use this trait when it comes to my writing process?

I tell you why. Pandas.

Pandas are my favourite animals. As most of you are aware, Edinburgh Zoo now have two pandas. I’ve been to see them many times and I am still convinced to this day that the male, Yang Guang, is really a human wearing a panda suit. I must have stood for hours watching him as he lolled about his straw bed, arm over his head, chilled out as if he’s about to crack open a beer. So laid-back, so ‘I’ll get round to that tomorrow’. I have been obsessed with pandas ever since. They are very human-like in their movements and expressions and I love their ‘meh’ kind of attitude. Sometimes life can be pretty hectic so when it’s all getting a bit much, I ask myself ‘what would a panda do?’and I know exactly what to do. I relax in my non-bamboo filled sofa and breathe.

You may wonder what pandas have to do with the way I write but here’s the thing – I am a pantser. A writer who never plans her stories. Flying by the seat of my proverbial literary pants. I am a panda in a writer’s suit. Sometimes I am relaxed to the point of napping but then that never gets you anywhere so I put the kettle on and get back to it.

I usually start with the title, odd I know, but that’s what normally pops into my head first. Then the main character makes an appearance, a bit like a late-comer to a party but always welcome and I secretly hope they stay late and don’t head off in a taxi when the sun comes up. The setting then says hello, usually after I start the first chapter.  It blinds me with weather patterns and street names as I start on my journey but at least I now have a sense of where my characters belong, where they might call home.

I will normally hit a junction. I join Dorothy as she walks along the yellow-brick road on her way to the wizard. Which way should I go? Left turn – the book is set in a fictitious land, right turn – the main character is 12, no… 10, no….agh or straight ahead – boy or girl? There is no wicked witch for me to fear but I really would love a pair of ruby slippers. They would go very well with my writer’s uniform (also known as jammies).

The questions I set myself as a writer certainly add to the tearing out of hair, the head in hands and the copious amounts of tea I drink. But they are needed, they are my conscience speaking to me, making me aware of pitfalls, constantly whispering ‘are you sure’, in my ear. I am also known for leaving a trail of half-finished cups of tea around the house as I go for a wander to solve plot holes. They are a necessary part of the process, just like athletes need water, I need tea.

I think whatever traits you have as a writer don’t really matter and to be honest shouldn’t matter, as long as I am able to write THE END at some point in the future then the literary world is my tea-drinking oyster.

What’s for you won’t pass you by. A motto I like to follow as it gives me hope that my witterings might actually turn into something good enough to submit. I sometimes feel sorry for the unsuspecting agent/publisher who thought they were outwith my radar, I mean well, I really do.

No pandas were harmed in the writing of this post. Tea anyone?

Thanks Sarah for that really entertaining insight into your writing process. You can keep up with Sarah by following her on Twitter @SarahPBroadley or reading her blog Great Big Jar

 

 

Sunday 21st May – Day 3 @CoastWordFest @pascalebientot @cath_simpson13

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Dunbar Writing Mums with Karen Dietz

Sunday was the third and final day for CoastWord and Kelly (from LoveBooksGroup) and I headed back to Dunbar for the first of the afternoon sessions. (There had been a morning session but we couldn’t make that.) The title was The Places Between Them and featured the Dunbar Writing Mums, pictured above, DunbarSings Community Choir and Catherine Simpson, writer in residence.

I have to say that this was my favourite session out of everything I’d seen this weekend. The Dunbar Mums started the session reading work from their anthology Nourish Me, Sister. Each woman stepped forward to share their work which was interspersed with evocative unaccompanied singing from Karen Dietz. Some of the poems and stories made me laugh, some made me think and at least one moved me to tears (Deborah Ritchie’s Reattachment). These were all deeply personal stories and poems of now and then, often with a strong family theme. I was so impressed that I bought a copy of their anthology and am looking forward to reading all the work the women had to share.

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Catherine Simpson

Next was Catherine Simpson who was also launching her work, a pamphlet containing words inspired by her time as writer in residence. I am rather jealous that she was allowed access to the town archives. That’s the kind of thing I would love to have a good look at. Much of her work was inspired by the absence of women in the archives or with just a fleeting mention such as the scribbled ‘Mrs Carlyle had many lovers’, also the title of the pamphlet. I also bought this and have enjoyed reading the often thought-provoking, sometimes nostalgic work within its pages.

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DunbarSings Community Choir

This session was rounded off by the wonderful DunbarSings Community Choir. The choir comprised around 24 men and women who sang in at least four parts, treating us to Happy Together, Lonesome Road and This Land. They produced such a rich sound, with wonderful harmonies all led by Karen Dietz who, as I mentioned yesterday, will be songwriter in residence for CoastWord over this coming year.

 

The next session was called True Stories and Confessions reflecting the titles of the debut novels from Catherine Simpson and Shelley Day. The two ladies had a good chat about how they had come to writing fiction later in life and how their books had begun – both arose from exercises at creative writing courses. Both authors have based their works firmly in places and times they were very familiar with. They started with what they knew then took it from there. Shelley said that quite often she would write something and wonder ‘where did that come from?’. She feels that her head is full of thoughts just dying to get out! Being a novelist came as a surprise and she still finds it a bit terrifying and difficult. Both women said that getting your novel published is only the start – then comes the publicity and the selling yourself, the fear that people will read your work and hate it, the fear that no-one will read it! I can tell you that I have read and enjoyed both their books and highly recommend them. You can read my reviews by clicking here: Truestory by Catherine Simpson and The Confession of Stella Moon by Shelley Day

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Val McDermid talking with Lorna Hill

Although there was again a CoastWord Nights on Sunday unfortunately, after a busy weekend, we couldn’t stay for that so our final event was listening to the wonderful Val McDermid chatting with Lorna Hill, whose PhD thesis looks at the role of women in contemporary crime fiction. If you haven’t heard Val McDermid speak at an event before, you really must try to go to one. She is terrifically entertaining as she speaks about her work and peppers her talks with very funny anecdotes. I find it very amusing that this writer renowned for her rather dark crime fiction was inspired to write when reading The Chalet School books as a young girl. She spoke about the various series she has written and how she hadn’t really intended to write series but that she kept having ideas for her characters. Just the previous evening she had finished her latest novel, the 10th Tony Hill and Carol Jordan novel, which is due out in August and will be called Insidious Intent. Before it comes out she will be taking part in many festivals over summer, is making some documentaries for Radio 4, is writing a play for Oran Mor then will get down to writing next year’s novel. She’s clearly a very busy lady and I could understand when she said that while having ideas for novels wasn’t a problem, finding time to develop them into books was a problem!

I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend at CoastWord and would like to express my thanks again to Hannah Lavery and Catherine Simpson for asking Kelly and I to come along and blog about the events. If there is one thing I have taken from the festival, it is the strong sense of community in Dunbar. It’s a community based festival which really shows the power of words and music to connect people from all walks of life.